As photographers, when we think ofmood, we think of stormy, dark and dramatic, but mood can equally relate to any lighting type that evokes a feeling. Photographically then, mood can readily be associated with weather conditions – calm and misty mornings, dramatic cloudy days with sunbeams and often, the most dramatic mood can be obtained on those days you might think offer less promise – as it only takes a break in stormy clouds to give a magnificent, moody image.
To capture dark and dramatic mood successfully, be prepared to wait for breaks in the weather, sometimes you just have to sit out the rainy spells – in the car if you're lucky; but when the weather breaks you can be rewarded with a few minutes really exciting lighting.
When the light does come, be prepared to work quickly. Good lighting doesn't wait for the photographer, and often its over just as quickly as it arrived, so think in advance whether you are going to need graduated ND filters, or if you need to bracket the shot to put together an HDR (High Dynamic Range) picture. Don't wait for the light before considering that you need a filter or need to bracket exposures to cope with the contrast range, as when the light's gone – it's gone. Checking your histogram after the event to find that your exposure is wrong it's too late – you can't bring it back.
For misty, early-morning moody images, again the weather forecast is an essential pre-planner – there is no point sleeping in to find that you've just missed a delicate, moody sunrise. Similarly, there is little point getting up early to find the weather isn't ideal.
The key to capturing mood is to pick the right day and location – as is all landscape photography, but the real secret is to be fully prepared for when the "mood" arrives.